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New Zealand envoy summoned over racist remarks

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday summoned New Zealand High Commissioner Rupert Holborow and issued a “strong demarche,” demanding “demonstrable action” against an Auckland-based TV anchor for making insensitive and racist remarks against Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Lata Reddy told Mr. Holborow that New Delhi “strongly and unequivocally” denounced the remarks of the journalist in question.

“It is shocking that such bigoted views have been aired by a representative of a mainstream media organisation of a multiethnic democracy like New Zealand. These remarks are totally unacceptable to India and should be condemned by all right-thinking people and nations. It is hoped that the Government of New Zealand would take immediate demonstrative action against the said individual to send out a clear signal that such behaviour is totally unacceptable,” said an MEA statement.

Anchor Paul Henry had earlier made racial comments against Governor-General of New Zealand Sir Anand Satyanand. In this case, he twisted Ms. Dikshit's surname and made fun of it.

The High Commissioner conveyed deep regrets for the hurt caused by Mr. Henry's comments, which he characterised as culturally insensitive, inappropriate and vulgar and “certainly not the views” of his government.

In a public statement, he expressed similar sentiments and “acknowledged” the vital contribution the Chief Minister had made to the Commonwealth Games. He pointed out that there were now over one lakh New Zealanders who are of Indian origin (almost 3 per cent of the population), the second largest immigrant group from Asia after China. “They play a leading role in our nation, together with other communities from around the world,” he noted.

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